Michigan State University

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Michigan State University Libraries -- Policy on Challenges to Materials in the Collection


It is the policy of the Michigan State University Libraries that books, journal articles, or other channels for scholarly communication acquired as part of the Libraries’ collections will not be withdrawn from the collections based on allegations of false, misleading, pejorative, or potentially harmful information. We also recognize that terminology used in cataloging practices may be problematic. In certain cases, updates, corrections, reviews, or letters of caution – whether issued by the author, publisher, or third parties – may be added to the text or referenced in the cataloging record or other links to the item.


It is understood that scholars may misstate facts, reach erroneous conclusions, or make claims that in fact or perception can be hurtful to other parties or lead future researchers astray. Perspectives, available knowledge, and conclusions change over time. Contested or opposing viewpoints are protected by the values of academic freedom, and older information retains value for historical research. Where possible, our collections set materials in context, by offering a range of works on any topic. Similar protections apply to non-scholarly publications as well.


Specific challenges, inquiries and requests should be directed to the Associate Dean for Collection Strategies & Preservation, who may confer with others about the situation. Our review will be guided by principles of academic freedom and principles contained in the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association at https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill, which says in part:


  • “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  • “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

The decision will be communicated to the inquiring party once the review is completed.


Approved by EC 3/23/2022.  This statement is based on text written at the UIUC Libraries, with permission.